Effects of Study Abroad Participation upon Selected Personality Measures
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Introduction It is generally felt that studying abroad is a transformative experience for undergraduate students for a multitude of reasons including social skills, the ability to adapt to different surroundings, and character building. Nevertheless, some people do not take advantage of study abroad opportunities. The purpose of this study was to investigate personality characteristics of students who participated in a study abroad program in Germany during the summer of 2016. The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS-X; Watson & Clark, 1994) measures of six negative and positive mood states, the Dark Triad (Paulhus and Jones, 2011) which measures Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy, and the Multidimensional Locus of Control Scale (Levenson, 1973) which assesses internal, powerful others, and chance locus of control orientation. Additionally, the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory (CSAI-2R; Cox, Martens, & Russell, 2003) was used to assess anxiety associated with study abroad experiences. Method Participants were 18 female undergraduate students who responded to a booklet concerning collegiate study abroad experiences. The booklet included the above described psychometric measures. SAS statistical analyses were employed to compare pre-trip and post-trip scale scores (correlated t-test). Results PANAS X findings: the participants were significantly more fatigued (t = -2.18, p < .05) and less shy (t = 2.09, p = .05). While not achieving statistical significance, the students were less attentive (t = 1.76, p = .10) and were less surprised (t = .161, p = .13). It is felt that had the number of participants been greater, these effects may have emerged as significant. All other PANAS-X subscales did not achieve statistical significance. Locus of Control results: participation in the study abroad resulted in increases in chance locus of control (t = -2.51, p < .02). The internal and powerful others orientation measures were not significant. Dark Triad findings: the Machiavellian scale (t = 1.83, p < .08) and the Psychopathy measure (t = -1.54, p = .14) approached but did not achieve statistical significance. Again, had a larger sample size been possible, these effects may have reached significance. The Narcissism index was not significantly different. Competitive State Anxiety Inventory results indicated there were no significant changes in somatic anxiety, cognitive anxiety, or self-confidence as a result of the study abroad experience. Conclusion These analyses demonstrated changes in personality characteristics resulting from participation in a study abroad program. Future research may compare study abroad experiences in Europe versus other countries. It would be interesting to study personality characteristics associated with other forms of international travel such as family experiences or internships, etc. Future studies might involve the effect of study abroad experiences upon a more thorough assessment of subjective experiences. A future increase in sample size should increase the power of the statistical analysis.
Bull, Kayla; King, Olivia (2017). Effects of Study Abroad Participation upon Selected Personality Measures. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from